The very thought of my visit to Verona this September, brings me back to the very first time I had even heard of a ‘Spritz’, it was in fact at the beginning of my time in Verona. At the time I thought it was the go-to Veronese or Veneto drink, I soon learned that the Spritz is now the go-to drink all over Italy, well, Northern Italy in particular.Though there is much debate around the origins of the Spritz, the belief is that it originates from Austrian troops who invented this lovely concoction when they invaded Northern Italian regions during the Second World War. Apparently these troops weren’t as tough as they might have liked, and the Italian wine – wine from Veneto in particular with its higher alcohol content, was too strong for their tastes so they diluted it down with sparkling water.
Of course Italy being Italy, there are a few variations and adaptations according to region but in general when you ask for a Spritz, the question that will follow is if you want a Spritz with Aperol or Campari. The tradition of meeting friends after work for a Spritz aperitivo is still going strong in Veneto. It was during the 1920’s that the first poster ads were pasted outside bars on every street corner of Veneto and subsequently, all over Italy…Aperol was slowly but surely getting a name for itself. But the Spritz had yet to be born. During the 1960’s the first advertising campaigns, launching the Aperol Spritz appeared on TV screens all over Italy. Their legendary advertisement called Il Carosello featuring Italian actor Tino Buazelli displaying the classic Italian humour, soon caught on and people in bars all over Italy followed suit exclaiming “Ah, Aperol!” before sucking down their new sweet orange aperitivo of choice. Spritz Aperol quickly became popular due to its low alcohol content and easy drinking.
The Spritz has since become a recognised cocktail of the International Bartenders Association. These days most Italian bars will have multiple Spritz cocktails on the menu, giving you the opportunity to try it with other bitters such as Campari, Cynar or other variations, each one giving its own distinct flavour, colour, and taste. Though Campari could potentially give it a run for its money, the classic Aperol still remains a favourite in my books.
Though sipping a Spritz was a regular occurrence in Milan, and still is whenever I go to Novara or on holiday elsewhere in Italy for that matter, any mention of Spritz will always take me back to Verona. I will never forget one day sitting in Piazza delle Erbe, a cool Spritz in my hand, looking up at the gracefully aging cracked frescos lining the building walls and thinking (while knowing full well I would soon have to return home to Ireland to finish college), wouldn’t it be great if this was life all the time?My trip to fair Verona in September will most certainly involve an aperitivo in the evening sun as I people watch and catch up with old friends, surrounded by the frescos in Piazza delle Erbe, in the best way possible, over a Spritz.